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Not surprisingly, issues arising in relationships – in all their different guises – come up regularly with Clients. Most often, it concerns their “Significant Other” (!) or children; with those involving other family members, friends and work colleagues coming close behind. 
 
While the exact nature of the relationship may different, the same three issues seem to come up time and again. We’re sure you’ll recognise them (!) and, probably, have plenty of examples of your own… 
 
 
Let’s start with a very obvious one. 
 
Every relationship is different, with each person having their own personality, beliefs, values and priorities. In other words, what each person brings to the relationship – including all their baggage (!) – is unique. And, just to complicate matters, they’re often completely unaware of exactly what this is… 
 
So, what may be obvious to us – or the way “things are done” – may not be to the other person. As a friend of ours is very fond of saying, just because you’re playing by one set of rules, it doesn’t mean everyone else is… 
 
Put another way, if you’re playing Cricket and the other person is playing Baseball, then there are going to be some very interesting results. And, feel free to replace this example with those of your favourite sport or other pastime. 
 
Which leads on to the next, equally obvious, but often overlooked issue. 
 
Different expectations. One person expects “x” – “Well, it’s so obvious, how could anyone else possibly overlook it?” – while the other expects “y”. Cue, as they say, a less than optimal outcome…. 
 
And you could replace “expectations” with “assumptions”, the end result is the same. If you need a quick reminder about why assumptions make an “ass out of u and me” (!), click here
 
And last, but not least, one that often comes as a complete revelation to many people. 
 
It’s no one else’s job to make us feel happy / fulfilled / appreciated / fill in the blank. Relying on any external factor – or person – to conjure up the positive feelings / expectations we desire only guarantees one thing in the long term. Disappointment. Or worse. 
 
Yes, they may provide it – whether consciously or not – in the short term – but making another person responsible for ANY aspect of our lives is only going to have one long term result. And that’s without it taking away our power and all the fun and satisfaction of being in the driving seat of our lives. 
 
So, where are we going with this? 
 
Well, as always, there’s a very simple solution to all these issues. 
 
Communication, as in face to face communication. Where we tune in to what the other person is saying AND how they’re saying it, as well as all the other visual clues needed for effective dialogue. Talking to the other person on a regular basis and as issues comes up. 
 
Then, just as important, listening to what they say rather than simply waiting for the noise to stop (!). 
 
It’s all about having a dialogue, rather than the all too common, “I’m right, you’re wrong, this is how it’s going to be and what you’re going to do” monologue. Being open to other ways of seeing things and for changing – whether a little or a lot – the things that aren’t delivering the desired results for everyone involved. 
 
If this all sounds too much like hard work, there’s a huge pay off in both the short and long term. Any shared issue or, dare we say it, challenge (!) strengthens any relationship. 
 
And, one final thought before we finish for today. 
 
Seeing any differences in opinion or disagreements as an opportunity to understand the other person better, rather than trying to impose our point of view on them, instantly takes the heat out of any situation. No one likes to be ridiculed, talked down to or dismissed – us included (!) – so why do we think this approach is going to help? Instead, the exact opposite is true. We all want to be listened to, understood and valued. And, by doing so, not only do we get a unique opportunity to understand the other person better, but they’ll be much more likely to listen to our point of view with a more attentive – and less emotional – ear. 
 
As always, the choice is yours. 
 
 
 
Picture by unknown author 
 
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